Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Vampyr, The: A Soap Opera

UK movie (1992 tvm; originally a 5-episode series). BBC/Arts & Entertainment Network. Pr Janet Street-Porter. Dir Nigel Finch. Spfx Mitch Mitchell. Vfx Steve Bowman. Libretto Charles Hart. Music Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861). Based on Marschner's opera Der Vampyr (1827). Starring Omar Ebrahim (Ripley), Colenton Freeman (George), Fiona O'Neill (Miranda Davenant), Philip Salmon (Alex), Roberto Salvatori (James Berkeley), Sally-Ann Shepherdson (Emma), Richard Van Allan (Sir Hugo Davenant), Willemijn Van Gent (Ginny), Winston (High Priestess of Satan), Sarah Jane Wright (Susie). Voice actor Robert Stephens (Narrator). Musicians BBC Philharmonic, Britten Singers. Conductor David Parry. circa 115 mins. Colour.

London, 1793: a Vampire is chased to his apparent death. 200 years later, as a side-effect of London's Docklands development, the vampire, Ripley, is woken from his sleep and rapidly rises to be a cutthroat tycoon. Told by Satan's emissary that, in order to gain a further year of life, he must kill three young women on successive nights, he seduces and vampirizes three yuppies: Ginny, a fashion model; Emma, an executive; and, almost, heiress Miranda, the lover of his sidekick Alex. Miranda remaining faithful to Alex, Ripley blackmails her father into allowing an instant marriage. But Alex and George (Ripley's chauffeur) both realize much of the truth and rush separately to stop the marriage and destroy the vampire.

This attempt to produce something that is simultaneously Opera and tits'n'terror Horror Movie is stylish, and interestingly mixes naturalistic backgrounds with stylized ones; the cast perform the fairly simple story more than adequately. The Metamorphoses are prettily handled. But too often the incongruity between opera and reality becomes ridiculous – as during the various graphic sex scenes, when the partners, far from breathless, sing complicated duets. The analogy between vampires and yuppie property developers is stated but left undeveloped. A clever, fascinating curio. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.